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A video that shows what the Banff National Park Bear guardian program is all about. The bear guardian program is made up of interpreters who prevent, monitor and manage bear jams. Video also includes guardians traveling throughout the park, talking to visitors about the fascinating world of bears and how they can help bears survive in this challenging landscape.
What is a Bear Guardian?
The Bear Guardian
Hello Bonjour! My name is Mireille Rousseau, and I am the Bear Guardian Supervisor for Banff National Park. The bear guardian program is made up of interpreters who prevent, monitor and manage bear jams. We also travel throughout the park and talk to visitors about the fascinating world of bears and how they can help bears survive in this challenging landscape. Bear jams are unsafe traffic situations that arise when visitors stop to view roadside bears. Upon arrival at a bear jam, bear guardians create a safe zone for themselves and passing motorists. Slow down signage for wildlife is placed roadside and overhead safety and hazard lights on the bear guardian vehicle warn motorists to reduce speed and proceed with caution. Bear guardians also ensure that motorists do not block traffic. That they do not block traffic, they pull over safely, and that they slowly move on to help with traffic congestion. For visitors who remain to view bears roadside, bear guardians stress the need for respectful and responsible viewing practices. This means asking visitors to provide bears with enough space to not interupt their foraging or travel activities. This can be a challenging task given the excitement generated when visitors see bears. Interpretation is an important component of our program. We travel throughout the park and teach visitors with the help of interesting props, such as bear claws, pelts, and compelling graphic displays. These tools help us foster respect, understanding, and ultimately the stewardship of Banff's precious bear population.
Mireille Rousseau Bear Guardian supervisor explains the program with images and video of bear jams and interpretation
Hello, my name is Steve Michel, and I'm a human-wildlife conflict specialist in Banff National Park.I've been working with the bear guardian program now for well I guess for over the last decade.The bear guardian program was started in the Lake Louise area by Hal Morrison, a wildlife conflict specialist for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay in 1997.
It's been interesting to see how the program has evolved over the yearsand its proven itself to be a really critical part of our operation here in Banff National Park.
The bear guardians play a very pivitol role in how we manage bear jams here in Banff National Park. Often the bear guardian team will be first on the scene, they'll assess the circumstances and they'll manage the people as need be. If there is a situation where they need to potentially manage a bear in terms of hazing a bear a little bit further into cover they will do that as well. They are in close connection with the resource conservation staff and they talk to us on a regular basis and update us on what's happening with a bear jam and whether or not we may need to attend or whether or not they've got it under control. The bear guardian teams are absolutely essential in helping us out managing bear jams on a day to day basis. The Bow Valley landscape in Banff National Park is one of the most heavily developed national park landscapes that you could imagine.
Bears have a really difficult time surviving in this landscape, there's a number of mortality threats that they face.Whether it's the transportation corridors such as the highway or the railway, or the possibility of them getting into human food at a campground and becoming food conditioned and a problem animal. There's a variety of serious threats that bear populations face, so it's really important that we do everything we can in terms of managing the bear population to help them get a leg up and help ensure their survival in the future. The bear guardian program is an absolute essential part of that process for us.
Human-Wildlife conflict manager Steve Michel is shown with video of bears and the various examples of bear situations in Banff National Park.
Hi there, my name is Brianna Burley, I work for Resource Conservation here in Lake Louise, Yoho, Kootenay National Parks in the human-wildlife conflicts program.
It was about 2006 when I joined the wildlife program, and I saw how essential the bear guardians were to helping educate and teach people all about bears
Their patience and tolerance that they demonstrate at bear jams is incredible and it really gives visitors a great opportunity. Not only to see bears but also to learn about bears as well. Bear jams are one of those things that happen pretty quickly, you know it just takes one vehicle to spot a bear and throw on the breaks and hazard lights in the middle of the road. The next thing you know a jam forms. Yeah it's totally awesome to see wildlife, however, when we don't have the bear guardians out there helping to manage these, a lot of dangers present. Not only is there concern for the wildlife, but it's more people safety. People kind of crossing the road and not paying attention to vehicles. So there's lots of concerns surround bear jams, not only for the bears itself, but primarily for the people who aren't really paying attention in these high traffic situations. Grizzly bears are definitely have been listed as a species of special concern with Alberta and it's our job here within parks to protect the bears that utilize our landscape. One of the greatest things about the bear guardians is that they allow us to enable visitors to have a really great viewing opportunity. It's absolutely essential if you want to get people on side to help preserve and protect grizzly bears and black bears so they get a chance to experience this. Without experiencing it's just words and us telling them this is what you can do and this is what you shouldn't do. However, when people get the opportunity to be roadside and watch a grizzly bear foraging or a black bear walking along the side of the road, that's a pretty incredible experience and people can carry that with them. Using the bear guardians lets people have these opportunities in a safe environment..
Brianna Burley Human-wildlife resource conservation officer with Yoho, Kootenay and Lake Louise provides further details of the Bear guardian Program as well as the importance of viewing wildlife safely. More images and video of bear in their habitat and people viewing bears.
If you want to learn more about the Bear guardian Program go to: www.pc.gc.ca/banff-bears